I get all kinds of weird questions in my e-mail inbox. Sometimes they’re creepy, sometimes they’re hilarious, sometimes they’re interesting, and sometimes they’re a part of a pattern. This is one of those patterns. A few times a month I’ll get the following question:
What is the best Japanese Language electronic dictionary?
Once I get the same question too many times, there’s a good likelihood that I’ll just write the answer via a post here, which is exactly what’ I’m doing. So, what is the best Japanese Language electronic dictionary out there? Let’s find out.
The Best Japanese Language Electronic Dictionary Is… Not a Japanese Language Electronic Dictionary…
Guh-what? You’d think that if you were in the market to buy an electronic dictionary you’d buy an electronic dictionary… at least in the “traditional” sense. You can see pictures of them above. Now, for sure, they do the things they’re supposed to do, but that’s about it. If you buy one, you probably won’t be disappointed on this front. You’ll be able to look up words, see sentences, and in some hear audio. Not too shabby.
For me, though, I don’t feel like that’s enough, at least not in this day and age. Even though these do exactly what you want them to do, I don’t think they’re the best tool for the job. Here’s why:
- They’re big (though the big screen could be considered a plus)
- They’re bulky, try putting one of the regular sized ones in your pocket
- They aren’t versatile
- They’re expensive (approximately $200-$400+)
By now, I bet you’ve already guessed the “electronic dictionary” that I’d recommend.
Get An iPod Touch / iPhone Instead Of a Japanese Electronic Dictionary
Instead of a Japanese language electronic dictionary, I highly recommend you get an iPhone or iPod Touch. I think it’s an easy decision, but that’s also because I’m an Apple fanboy. Still, I think anyone will see the logic here.
- An iPod Touch comes in at $179 (if you buy it at Costco) or $199 from the Apple store. This is the same price as the lower end models of the Japanese electronic dictionaries, but you get so much more.
- You can download a dictionary application to your iPhone or iPod Touch. My favorite is “Japanese” because everything is stored locally (i.e. no need for an internet connection to look things up). This app is $16, which is pretty expensive for an iPhone app, but well worth it if you were planning on putting down $200-$400+ on an electronic dictionary. Update: A lot of people seem to like “Kotoba” as well. I haven’t tried it, but it seems to be highly recommended (and free!)
- There are tons of other Japanese language learning related applications in the iTunes store as well. There are so many different things you can get (and who knows what will come out in the future), making it an awesome (mobile) platform for practicing your Japanese.
- You can download Japanese Podcasts to your iPod / iPhone, and listen to them for continued practice while you’re driving, sitting around, at work, at school, etc.
- You can do other things with it, so you aren’t just pinned down to using it to study Japanese (you know, all the things an iPod Touch / iPhone are supposed to do, right?).
So, basically it’s better, more mobile, has apps, and costs less. What is there not to like? Granted, regular Japanese electronic dictionaries have their perks, too, I’m sure, but I personally don’t see the purpose of getting one when you could do this instead.
If that didn’t convince you, watch this video, which just says the same things you just read all over again.
Anyone else doing the same thing? Any angry Japanese electronic dictionary users out there? Let me know in the comments what you think.